What I learnt from the “SAP on HANA” press conference

10 January 2013

Mark Chalfen

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

I would like to start by thanking SAP for the invitation to such an important press release. It was an honour to be attending and contributing to a key milestone in the history of such as great company. I attended the session in Frankfurt, with the main event taking place in Palo Alto and the another event in New York all run at the same time. Due to the time difference being in our favour the audience within Frankfurt were given a sneak preview of the announcement, a slick presentation from Jim Snabe and a great demo from Ian Kimbell showing “Working Capital Management” (a new SAP Business Suite on HANA App) as well as some customers talking about how they plan to use the new solution.

Big day for SAP

Seeing Vishal and Hasso on stage it was clear they were both very proud of their team’s achievement. I can only echo what everyone else has said that the team working on this project have done a great job in anamazingly short timeframe. To some it was the last step of the wonder plan to change the perception of real time systems. However for Vishal and Hasso it was the first step of a new challenge. Rather than resting on their laurels it is clear these two aim to push on with their development and grow the benefit for their substantial customer base even further and wider.

Positive customers

OK, as far as I could see and hear none of the customers actual use Business Suite on HANA in anger. Some may have a proof of concept, and others see the value of the solution based on their current usage of HANA but none are live. I would anticipate the real works begins for SAP to identify the right customers to focus on. I would be surprised come May if we did not see some actual customers talk about their REAL SAP Business Suite on HANA system at SapphireNow in Orlando. As a side note I would say this press release would mean that you would have to be mad to miss the event in Orlando, I hopefully will be there.

This is not R/4.

This was something I was unclear of coming into this press conference. Over the past few years many had speculated that SAP Business Suite on HANA would become R/4, however Jim Snabe made it very clear that this was simply just a new Enhancement Package for current SAP Business Suite clients.

The way the new solution was portrayed focused around a simple “process without disruption” implementation, aligning to the current Enhancement Package messaging. No big technical migration will be required, however there will be a database migration. All that techy stuff is not my bag, so please correct me if I got that wrong!!

The question I did not ask that I would like to ask now

I like to come prepared with a theme of question before these events and my focus was going to be on the RDS methodology in relation to SAP Business Suite on HANA. The following day my real question came, and I would like to pose it now and would love for someone to reply.

“The suite on HANA is going to be accessed via an Enhancement Package – does that mean all future Enhancement Packages will focus on the SAP Business Suite on HANA or will customers still benefit from new Enhancements (not fixes) if they stay on a traditional SAP Business Suite?”

The answer of this question will impact the current client base’s SAP Roadmap and Strategy. If new functionality can be consumed via Enhancement Packages after the SAP Business Suite on HANA then clients mightwait longer until they migrate. If however, there will be no new functionality for the current solution then the SAP Business Suite on HANA will become more attractive to a wider audience of clients over time.

My summary

Clearly this was a momentous occasion and date for SAP. A lot of credit has to go to the SAP engineers to make this a reality. Not too much detail was actually shared, however I am sure over time some of the questions I have and others have will be answered. This solution has the power to help SAP control the future market; however it is not the time to rest on their laurels. I would expect within 6 months we will start to hear about how customers benefit from SAP Business Suite on HANA. I would also expect over the next 18 months to 2 years that the adoption will slowly pick up as the use cases become more powerful and compelling with the more reserved clients realising that they MUST move to SAP Business Suite on HANA. It is going to be an interesting ride and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

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About the author

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

Mark tells it straight - as an ex-boxer, what else would you expect?  Both his knowledge and experience of SAP products allow him to cut to the chase dispelling myths and hearsay.

As a result of working closely with various SAP Finance Product Management teams on product development, Mark understands these products inside out. This depth of understanding has led to him become a ‘thought leader’ in his field; after all, it is not often SAP consultants have helped shape and develop the very product they are selling.

Having such a strong relationship with SAP alongside being an SAP Mentor and Moderator means that Mark has an extensive network within SAP. For clients, this relationship proves to be a huge advantage and leads to configuration issues being resolved rapidly.

Mark has worked on short proof of concepts through to year-long multi-million pound global roll-outs. However, no matter how large or small the project, the true value Mark brings to his work is in the guidance he provides to senior stakeholders. In essence, he assists them to implement more effective processes and drive better behaviours within their finance teams.

Helping organisations transform their business with SAP S/4HANA is Mark’s current focus. The benefits of S/4HANA are numerous, including the simplification of tasks, embedded analytics and improved user engagement. Whilst the eventual move from SAP Business Suite into S/4HANA is inevitable, the journey to it is not always clear. Mark’s ability to understand an organisation’s needs coupled with his deep understanding of S/4HANA provides clarity and eases their transition.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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